It is the beginning of February and that means that the Kentucky Derby picture starts to get closer to clarifying somewhat. To that end, They Are Off will unveil the first edition of the Super Six Derby Pix, which details the top six candidates to this point for the Run For The Roses. Here is the initial set of picks (or pix):
#1 Liaison- I will say that the best race I have seen to this point of any of the races involving either two-year-olds at the end of last year or the three-year-olds so far this year is the CashCall Futurity. The winner of that race was Liaison, who also won the Real Quiet before that to make it a total win streak of three for this colt. He is expected to return to the races this weekend in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis.
#2 Union Rags- In all reality, this horse should have won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He ran all over the racetrack through the stretch at Churchill Downs and still lost by a mere nose to Hansen. It is completely understandable that he would have run a tad erratically on the big stage, considering he was still somewhat inexperienced, so I think this is still a major player on the Derby scene. He is taking the traditional Florida route to the Derby: the Fountain Of Youth and Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.
#3 Hansen- Suffered his first loss this last Sunday in the Grade 3 Holy Bull over a sloppy track after an awkward start. The bad start essentially prevented him from getting right to the lead, as is his custom. I still think he deserved to win the two-year-old champion honors, but it was a less than stellar debut to his three-year-old season. Of course, he will get tested right back with races against #2 on the list in those two Florida preps.
#4 Rousing Sermon- Was the runner-up in that CashCall Futurity and if he had another 16th of a mile, I think he might have been the winner. He is the most-experienced of the horses so far on this list with six starts. He won the Cal Cup Juvenile, but has already finished behind Liaison on two separate occasions. He again faces Liaison in the Grade 2 Robert E. Lewis this weekend.
#5 Algorithms- This is the horse that snapped the champion's unbeaten streak. He won the Grade 3 Holy Bull this weekend, but as I said in the Hansen discussion, I think he had some excuses. Of course, that does not take away from the effort of Algorithms, who has progressed nicely from a maiden-breaking win to an Allowance/Optional Claimer to a graded stakes win. In the final analysis, he might end up being one of the strongest candidates out of what promises to be a very strong Todd Pletcher contingent.
#6 Creative Cause- Has already won two graded stakes in his brief career, the Grade 2 Best Pal and the Grade 1 Norfolk. He finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile behind Hansen and Union Rags, less than two lengths away from a win. He is part of a strong Southern California selection of horses. The way the season is shaping up so far, I am tending to think that the Derby winner might come from the West Coast.
Tune in again later this week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!